Chai Spiced Monkey Bread

By • January 20, 2014 14 Comments

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Author Notes: This rich and sticky sweet bread serves a crowd and is a perfect addition to any brunch table. I have used a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flour in this recipe, but it can also be made with 100% all-purpose flour if desired. Also, feel free to substitute 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon for the chai spice. Adapted from Cook's Illustrated.Yossy Arefi

Serves 8 to 12


  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk, warmed to 110º F
  • 1/3 cup water, warmed to 110º F
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Chai Spiced Coating

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but pliable
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  1. Use 2 tablespoons of the softened butter to generously grease a 10-inch bundt pan. Use your fingers to ensure that butter gets into every nook and cranny of the pan.
  2. Combine the warm milk, water, sugar, and active dry yeast in a small bowl. Let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. While the yeast is proofing, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  3. When the yeast is ready, turn the mixer on low and stream in the yeast mixture. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter and the egg. Knead the dough until it is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky, but if it seems like it is overly wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.
  4. Coat a large bowl with oil or cooking spray and turn the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. While the dough is rising prepare the chai spiced coating by mixing the spices and vanilla bean seeds into the sugar. Brown the butter by cooking it over medium heat in a small saucepan, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn light brown and the butter has a nutty fragrance. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. When the dough is finished rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a square about 8 inches by 8 inches. Use a pizza wheel or bench scraper to cut the dough into 32 pieces. (If you're feeling ambitious, make 64.)
  7. Working with a few pieces at a time, roll each piece of dough into a rough ball, then roll in the cooled browned butter followed by a roll in the brown sugar. Layer the dough balls in the bundt pan snugly. Repeat until all dough balls are used.
  8. Cover the bundt pan with a clean towel and set it in a warm place to rise until it reaches 1 to 2 inches below the rim of the pan. This should take about 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake the bread until the top is dark and caramelized and the sugar is bubbling around the edges, 25-30 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 5 minutes then carefully turn it out onto a plate. Cool for 5 more minutes then dig in. This bread is best served warm the day that it is made.

More Great Recipes: Bread, Rolls & Muffins|Bread

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Comments (14) Questions (0)


7 months ago Strudel

Can all purpose flour be used...question was previously not see answer


7 months ago julien_gallant

You can use just all purpose flour. You may need to add a bit of extra water to the mix since spelt flour is more water soluble. You may also need to knead the dough a bit more to get to shiny & smooth point you are looking for. The recipe will work just fine and the taste difference will be negligible. I have done it with just the one flour and no one knew the difference.


9 months ago Alisha Frey

Can you use all purpose flour for all flour ingredients?


10 months ago FlowBlue

A keeper!


about 1 year ago julien_gallant

While I cook all the time, I don't consider myself much of a baker. This recipe was so well written with clear step by step instructions it was a breath of fresh air. I warmed the water to 120 degrees for the yeast but other than that, I followed everything exactly as written. It came out perfect!


over 1 year ago Misty

Is there a way this can be successfully made vegan?


over 1 year ago Nameeta Rajwani

Hi! Just made this today - love the recipe but found that it tastes a little yeasty. Any suggestions?


about 1 year ago julien_gallant

Maybe make each ball a bit smaller, allowing for more of the sugar/spice mixture to do their magic with each bite. I did try just a dough ball and it doesn't have a ton of flavor since most of the taste comes from the coating.


about 1 year ago Nameeta Rajwani

Thanks, Julien! Will try that the next time :)


over 1 year ago Raven Aligato

Jst made it today and it's worth ...look amazing!


over 1 year ago jblock

Wondering how to prepare the night before up to the baking stage. For an easy Sunday breakfast...


11 months ago Isabelle Tiburcio

Me too


over 1 year ago Nancy55

This recipe looks great but I could use some guidance on how long to bake it. Thanks!


over 1 year ago Yossy Arefi

Sorry about that Nancy, it should say to bake for 25-30 minutes. I've updated the recipe page.